I've never been to so many cookouts in such a short period of time! I'm not complaining, as I do love a good cookout, but after 4 in 5 days, I am a little burnt out on grilled hamburgers and steaks (for at least another week). I had people over on the 4th and had a good amount of leftover burgers and steak and the last thing I felt like doing yesterday was eating either, but didn't want to let them go to waste. So, in a moment of desperate inspiration, I decided to make chili. Now chili is something that I made once, and it came out just awful, horrible, barely edible. So, I figured, this attempt couldn't be any worse.
What I didn't anticipate, was that it would be delicious! See I was a bit adventurous and incredibly lazy with this chili. I had a recipe from a women's magazine, but didn't have half the ingredients and lacked any energy or desire to go get them. Instead, I took a good look through my cabinets and took stock of what I did have and then got busy. What really intrigued me about this recipe was that it called for 1/3 of a cup of bittersweet chocolate chips. Chocoholic that I am, that sounded fabulous but at the same time a little scary considering it was going into a tomato and meat sauce.
Well, I didn't have any chocolate chips. But, I did have a container of high quality bittersweet cocoa, Valrhona I believe. So, I tossed in a heaping tablespoon of that. I was too scared to use a full 1/3 cup and figured maybe the powder was stronger anyway? I didn't have chili powder, so I just substitued Chinese 5 spice, figuring the cinnamon in that would go well with the chocolate and cumin. The recipe called for a few cans of diced tomatoes w/jalapenos...I didn't have those on hand, but I did have a huge can of whole tomatoes in juice so used those and added a good helping of ground red pepper for spice. A bit of beer, a splash of red wine, a bunch of oregano and hint of sugar and it was time to let this concoction simmer away.
I let it rest overnight in the fridge and heated up a bowl for lunch, a bit nervously I admit as this really was a kitchen sink soup.....but it was amazing. Somehow it had a smoky flavor, maybe from the grilled meat, and the chocolate and spices gave it a mysterious exotic taste, but no spice was dominant, they all blended beautifully. I added a sprinkle of fresh cilantro and was pretty pleased with myself, I must admit! I will definitely make this again, as it's a great way to use up grilled leftovers.
3/4 ground beef (this was 3 grilled burgers) chopped into half inch pieces
1/2 pound grilled steak, chopped into half inch pieces
1/2 medium sized onion ( I used Vidalia)
1 teaspoon crushed garlic (about 2 cloves fresh)
1/2 bottled beer (I used Sam Adams)
1 splash of red wine (maybe a quarter cup)I used a cheap shiraz
1 can of white beans (I used Italian canneloni, cuz it's all I had, any beans will do)
2 tab flour
2 tab light olive oil (or your favorite cooking oil)
2 tab tomato paste
1/2 tsp oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
1 heaping tablespoon of good quality Cocoa powder. I used Valrhona (from Whole foods)
1 tsp chinese five spice
1 tsp ground red pepper
2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
In large sauce pan over medium heat, add oil, and after it heats up add onion, stirring for a few minutes until it softens. Add chopped cooked beef to flour(add a sprinkle of the red pepper powder to the flour as well) and mix until lightly coated, and then add to onions and stir. Add garlic. Rinse beans and then add them to pot. Add beer and wine and let it simmer for a few minutes. Add tomato paste and stir well. Add canned tomatoes and their juice and then fill can about a third of the way with water and add that too. Stir well, then add oregano, cumin, Chocolate powder, chinese five spice, red pepper and sugar. Add a dash of salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Then reduce heat to low and cook about an hour to blend flavors. Serve immediately or better yet, let it sit overnight and then serve with chopped cilantro and a dollop of homemade guacamole or sour cream (or both.)